Subtle Reminders

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God has been communicating with me in a very unique way lately. He’s been randomly placing things, in the shape of a heart, in my path. Its taken me a while to share this because it wasn’t until today that I realized two things:

1) I’m not making this up

2) God is trying to show me something

I’ve always had an eye for detail, which enables me to see aspects of things a lot of people don’t initially pick up on. So usually when I notice something out of the ordinary I kind of just shrug my shoulders and move on, but its not that simple when it comes to these hearts. They just keep appearing- forcing me to figure out what exactly they’re trying to teach me. I can’t remember when this all began, but it started happening so much that I decided to start taking pictures (partly to prove to myself that I wasn’t going crazy.)

img_8294img_8310These two were taken during my West Virginia Mission Trip in March

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This was taken in August while working at Pilgrim Pines Covenant Camp this past summer

IMG_4615.JPG And this one was taken on campus this past Monday night.

After reading Jami Houston’s blog back in January about how God was showing her lessons through the presence of flowers, I realized that I may have been experiencing something very similar. Through some reflection and reassurance from a close friend I’ve been able to figure out just what God has been trying to show me.

These hearts, so carefully placed in the paths He knows i’ll walk in, serve as reminders that no matter where I go in life, He will always love me. When I least expect it, and when I feel least deserving of it, His love will forever be right next to me- surrounding me. And its something I can never escape, no matter what walk of life I’m in.

** update: 10/30**

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10/6 going to cheer practice on campus

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10/18 on a quesadilla I was eating 

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10/27 pile of leaves on campus

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10/28 in my bathroom. Coming from a night light with circles on it, not sure how the heart formed..

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10/28 on the floor of Chase bank

**Another update 12/6**

The Day a Homeless Man Ministered to Us

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See that man we’re talking to in the picture above? The one wearing a dirty coat in the heat, on the beach? His name is Greg, and he is someone i’ll never forget.

While walking on the boardwalk, we saw Greg sitting alone. Just him and his bible. Together we decided to go up and talk to him and I’m so glad we did. First, we introduced ourselves and asked if he would be interested in taking a survey we had. When he agreed, we were humbled by his responses. One of the questions asks what three words a person would choose to describe their life. The words he chose were faith, love and compassion. Another question asks what the number one thing is on their bucket list. His answer? To keep helping people. This man who has absolutely nothing but the clothes on his body, his bible and the little portable radio he carries said his main goal in life was to help people. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.

Before we even finished the survey with Greg, he started talking to us about God and began reading us a few of the scriptures he reads daily. That led us to asking about his story, and how he came to know Christ. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the heaviness of the story we were about to hear. He started off talking about the life he had with his wife and then talked about what it was like for them when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She battled it for two years before she passed away. As I sat there and envisioned what that must have been like for him, he interrupted my thoughts by explaining that his youngest daughter died two weeks after his wife passed away.

His daughter suffered from epilepsy. He told us that her medicine was so extremely expensive that he had a lot of trouble getting it for her. I remember him repetitively saying “250 dollars for just 30 pills.” Sad. His daughter passed away after having a severe seizure, during which her tongue blocked her airway and affected her breathing. Two deaths due to medical issues in 2007. He didn’t go into much detail while he told his story, but I think its safe to assume that those medical bills wiped him out. He continued and told us about a very significant event that happened in 2009: the day he was attacked.

He was sitting (probably living) in a transportation station somewhere in San Diego, and one day a group of teenagers approached him. They beat him with some kind of car part repetitively in the neck. They stole everything he had, including the thirteen dollars he had saved. The damages were so severe that he was in the hospital for more than a month. He had to have nine neck surgeries, and the scar was still very apparent when we spoke with him. We all sat there, heart broken and holding back tears, in silence as we took in all that he was explaining to us.

He eventually told us about how he came to know who God was, and it lightened the mood a little. I’m not sure when or where this occurred, but there was a man who would go visit Greg three times a week. During those three visits, he would sit and talk with Greg about the bible. Greg said that the man would read the bible to him, and then have Greg read a little too. Eventually Greg began to read it on his own and now he has his own favorite verses and a really good understanding of who God is, what He did for us and what all of that means for him personally. As he was talking, I kept thinking about the man that introduced him to the bible. I wondered if he had any clue that Greg was now ministering to other people.

There we were- young college students on a mission trip that had the theme of “press on”, where we were learning how to be more like Paul in Philippians during times of adversity. There we were looking for opportunities to inspire and be inspired. We ran right into a man who has nothing but his faith, and he’s just as content as can be with his bible and the radio player that had gospel music flowing from its earbuds. Talk about encouragement.

I don’t know how Greg, a previous mechanic from Missouri, ended up all the way on Mission Beach in San Diego, but i’m glad we were in the same place at the same time. It meant that we were able to meet him, listen to his testimony and pray with him.

His Perfect Timing

 

 

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I don’t know why its taken me so long to write about this particular testimony, but I’m excited to finally be writing about it today. I want to tell the story of how God allowed me to find my long-lost little sister. I know, it probably sounds like one of those stories you hear on the news or something. But this is real life.. My life. There are still times when I can hardly believe it myself.

A long time ago, when I was about eight years old, I was told that I had a little sister in the most random way. I remember being at my aunt’s house when my father called and asked to speak to me. I answered the phone and we talked about how I was doing and what kind of trouble I was getting into at my aunt’s. Towards the end of our conversation, he mentioned that he needed to tell me something. It was that I had a little sister, and her name was Zaria. I remember him telling me that I would get to meet her soon. I had no idea what soon meant back then, but soon took FOREVER.

Back then, I was an only child and just ecstatic about being an older sister. I couldn’t believe it! I remember getting off of the phone and telling my cousins about it. But at some point the excitement died down, and I got distracted by other things like school and extra curricular activities. For years I had thoughts of Zaria just sitting in the back of my head. I always wondered what she looked like, what her favorite things to do were, and what she was doing in that exact moment that I was thinking of her. I wondered what it would be like when I was finally able to meet her.

I had always just accepted the fact that I would get to meet my little sister Zaria “when the time was right”. But eventually that did not continue to sit right with me. My thoughts about Zaria became really active in November 2015. Seemingly out of no where I was becoming overwhelmed with thoughts about her. I had a strong desire to find her. My long lost sister. I began asking anyone who might have known even a tiny bit of information about her and where she could be. I began with my immediate family. I spoke with my dad. I spoke with my aunt and uncle. Then I moved onto family friends. With the information I gathered, I was able to do some searching on the internet but didn’t come up with much of anything.

Frustrated, I was to ready give up. The next day though, I spoke to someone who had a mutual friend with Zaria’s mom. With some further digging I finally found Zaria’s page!!!!! I. Was. So. Exultant. You would’ve thought I won the lottery or something. Everything within me was telling me to add her on Facebook and start talking to her, but I had so many things to think about before I took that step. I needed to think about her mom, and how she might’ve felt if I reached out to Zaria without her knowledge. I needed to think about her, and if it would be best for her to know who I was right in that moment. And I needed to pray about it. I wanted to know which direction God wanted me to go in. So I waited. And I got some wise counseling from church mentors. I began to feel like the best option would be to reach out to her mom first. So I did.

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I was on edge after I sent that. I knew that once I pressed that send button, the rest was in God’s hands. I was trying to remind myself that even if her response was not one that I wanted to receive, that it was for a reason that only time would tell. His plan is always perfect. His timing is always right.

After a few seemingly loooong days of my message not even having had a read receipt on it, I started to wonder if she even saw my message. I prayed some more and spoke to my mentors again, then decided to just write my sister directly. I had one of those “here goes nothing!” feelings. It was little less nerve-wracking to press send for a second time, but nerve-wracking nonetheless.

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I think seeing the notification that my message was read and watching the typing bubble was move made me far more nervous than pressing the send button. But once the bubble disappeared, a paragraph popped up and I was so eager to read it that I started reading from the bottom up haha.

 

She was okay with it!!!! She said she had been waiting for the moment we would get to meet me too. She had always dreamed of having an older sibling and had a bunch of questions for me too. She said she would LOVE to get to know me better and maybe even meet me one day. My heart was melting as I read each of her heartfelt words. She ended her message by letting me know that her mom barely used Facebook, but she was happy with Zaria’s decision to accept me into her life. Real tears.What an emotional time. A milestone in our life. This moment didn’t mark a milestone in just our lives, though. It was time for me to introduce Zaria to our other sister, Sa’Mya.

When I connected my little sisters with one another,  and talked with Zaria more, I realized that she had JUST moved to the same exactly city as Sa’Mya. How amazing is that? Back when I was randomly thinking so heavily about Zaria, I thought God was showing me that it was time for me to reach out to her so that WE could build OUR relationship. While I still think that is partly true, I believe that this whole thing was more for my little sisters to build a relationship with one another. They were living less than 10 minutes from one another and had no idea. Next year they will be attending the same school. Can you imagine going to school with a sister you never met, and you had no clue?

 

Okay, fast forward five months: May 2016

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In late May I finally had an opportunity to fly out to where my little sisters live. Zaria and Sa’Mya had already met in December, but this was my first time meeting Zaria. Before meeting her, I was having feelings of anxiety and disbelief. I could nottt believe I was going to be meeting my long lost little sister in person! Wow. It was hard to fight back tears when we finally met. She is so beautiful. I could see myself in her even before words were spoken.It was another emotional moment once I hugged my little sister for the first time. And then her mother and God mother. They stood there just in awe. Her God mother was teary eyed. I got to spend a whole day with my beautiful little sisters and we had so much fun playing in the pool, playing board games and getting ice cream. It was really interesting to see how similar our mannerisms are, especially since this was only my first time being around Zaria and my third being around Sa’Mya. I think one of the most eye-opening parts of the day I spent with them occurred when we all went to Sa’Mya’s house to say our goodbyes.

My sisters, all of our mothers and I all stood around talking about how much fun the Lawrence sisters had together, and how good God truly is for bringing us together. Both moms were expressing how grateful they were that I reached out their daughters to become a part of their lives.What really stood out to me while we all talked, though, was something Zaria’s mom said. She was explaining that Zaria had been asking for a Facebook for a long time, and she had always told Zaria that she did not need one. She finally gave in and let Zaria have one just weeks before I found her. I was in awe. If I had tried to find my sister a month prior to when I did, I wouldn’t have been successful at all. And truthfully, I probably would’ve gotten frustrated and given up. But you know what? God’s timing is ALWAYS right, so everything fell into place the exactly way it was supposed to.

February 16th: Happy Birthday Dillyn

Today marks a particularly special day in my life. My Godson, Dillyn, was born on this day four years ago. Its really weird because even though these four years seem to have flown by, it feels like he should be older than he is. His personality has always been more mature than his actual age. He is four going on forty. By far the funniest and smartest little four year old I have ever met. He’s truly one of a kind. Here’s a limited list of why:

He steals the heart of most people he meets

 

And makes new friends very easily

He’s bossy

And if you don’t listen you’d better watch your back!

He’s a THE ladies’ man

He’s basically apart of the youth group at church..

He does hair

Appointments only.

He also makes a great breakfast in the morning

ALWAYS on the move!

Whether he’s on his way out on a bike, in the car, or just plain running.

 

He’s had multiple professions in his lifetime

Including, but not limited to a police man, professional bowler, batman, a cowboy, a pirate, soccer assistant, and a professional baseball player

 

He does some pretty strange things

 

Buttt he’s my Godson. And I love him with all my heart!

Happy birthday to my favorite little human